It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare – being stuck abroad without access to your hard earned funds. And whether the airline lost your bags, the machine ate your card, or someone stole your cash, you really don’t want to have to throw yourself at the mercy of strangers to find a place to sleep, or break into an international bank!
It’s always good to have a Plan B and prepare for the worst case scenarios before you leave home, though if you can keep your money safe while abroad to start with, your trip will undoubtedly go much smoother for you.
Utilizing the following tips will mean you’ll never have to use that Plan B to save yourself from a worst case scenario. These are my top tips for keeping money safe while traveling abroad.
Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket
When traveling, it’s always a better idea to keep your wallet in your front pocket, as this eliminates the chance of being targeted by pickpockets.
Pick pocketing is incredibly common overseas, especially in some parts of Europe, and this is easily the number #1 crime against travelers. Though who knows, some people may enjoy having their back pocket checked out by a stray hand!
Also note that many pickpockets will congregate around signs which warn tourists to be careful of theft. When reading these signs, most people will subliminally touch the part of their body which holds their wallet to make sure it is still there, letting anyone watching know exactly where their money is.
Ditch the money belt.
Leaving aside the fact that wearing a money belt is a major violation of universal fashion laws, wearing one screams to the world that you are a tourist, and this attracts pickpockets.
Use a handbag or a wallet just as you would if you were at home, and blend in more as a local.
Keep a list of emergency bank phone numbers
In the instance that your credit or debit cards do become misplaced, eaten or stolen, you will need to call your bank straight away to cancel your cards and order a replacement.
Carry a list of phone numbers including international dialing codes with you just in case, and make sure you have traveled with emergency, backup credit cards so you’re never stuck without funds.
Never leave your bag unattended
This is timely advice, not just limited to airport security. And what sounds like straight forward advice is actually the leading cause of most travel woes!
When, for instance, do you ever think twice about leaving your bag on the beach? Or at your feet during a lunch with views of the Eiffel Tower?
Leaving your bag unattended, even if it’s just at your feet over a casual lunch, is making a pickpocket’s job easy. If it’s loose, it’s a target for theft.
Secure your bag by looping a strap around either your arm, leg or chair leg. If you’re sleeping in public, on a train or at an airport, be sure to do the same. Loop an arm through one of your bag straps while you sleep.
Fasten your bag to the seat, luggage rack, or yourself. I will always have at least one part of my body connected to my bag if I’m enjoying a public nap.
Split Your Cash
When traveling, divide your cash and credit cards and store these in different places. Split everything up into various pockets across different bags, and only carry your main credit cards and 1-2 days worth of cash with you in your wallet.
If something gets misplaced, lost or stolen, you then have emergency funds and haven’t lost your whole stash of cash.
Don’t give to beggars
In general, it’s a very bad idea when traveling to give money to people on the street.
Leaving aside the fact that you have to pull out your wallet in public, this is encouraging begging, and once you give to one, you’ll be followed and harassed by others the entire way home.
Ifyou want to do good while traveling you should look into volunteer work in the destination or donate some money to a local charity.
Don’t flash your cash
Under no circumstances should you change money in the street or pull out large wads of cash in public. This is a great way to get pick pocketed or ripped off – and when it comes to changing money, this is especially true if you’re unfamiliar with the local currency.
Always make sure you exchange foreign currency with a recognised trader, such as a bank or exchange bureau. Avoid exchanging money at the airport as these are hardly ever competitive rates.
Organize the cash in your wallet monopoly style before you leave for the day, with like dominations together so you’re not flashing a wad of cash when looking for the correct change.